A father plans the route for a long car journey with his son sat on a Bundle Bed camping bed

Easy Games to Play with Kids on a Long Car Journey

Five of the best car games from the fun & games experts Sharky & George

“Are we nearly there yet?” 

The dreaded refrain from the back of the car; starting approximately 15 minutes after you’ve pulled out of your driveway.

The thought of a holiday after a tough year is absolutely wonderful… but there’s often a long car journey to survive first. With kids in tow, it can be a daunting prospect.

I had a 6-hour car journey on the horizon with my little lads (5yrs and 3yrs old) so called in the expert: George from Sharky & George. We had a brilliant chat where I got to pick his brains on surviving long journeys with kids and the best activities to keep kids entertained on holiday.

We absolutely loved his ideas for easy games to play together in the car and wanted to share them with you. We are testing them all out on our current camping adventure and offer our verdicts below…   

Easy Games to Play in the Car

The Animal Game

  • Choose who goes first (make it the youngest or the oldest in the car)
  • They think of an animal
  • The rest of the car asks them questions until they figure out the animal

Verdict: Dougal had us all stumped by his choice of a “huge dinosaur wearing a backpack” … but it kept us giggling for a long time!

Imaginary Treasure Hunting

  • Here the hunting is imaginary but the 'treasure' is not, so make sure you have a little treat ready for whoever finds it! I think Bear Paws are brilliant for this
  • Choose a place that everyone in the car knows well, perhaps your house or garden
  • Hide your treat in your head somewhere in the place you have chosen
  • The rest of the car 'searches' for the treasure, letting you know where they are
  • You can give them the traditional ‘hotter’ and ‘colder’ clues depending on how close they are
  • Whoever finds the treasure gets the treat!

Verdict: It turns out Bundle Dad and I disagree a little on the layout of our old flat… but this one was a definite time-killer!

What can you spot?

  • At the beginning of the journey, go round the car asking everyone for two things they’d like to ‘spot’ (e.g. car carrier; horses; caravan; etc)
  • Note the ‘spot list’ down on a piece of paper or your phone
  • Keep a tally of who spots the most of each thing on the list
  • The person with the most spots, gets the treat!

Verdict: Unfortunately, there are not as many helicopters along the back roads of rural France as Arthur was hoping, but this was a lovely one to have going on in the background throughout the journey. Whenever there was a dip in spirits, we had another look-out for our spotting list.  And the flamingoes in the Carmargue were definitely a spotting highlight!

In-Car Twister

  • Not one for the driver, or instead save this for a traffic jam!
  • The adult in the car, calls out a limb and where to put it e.g. forehead to window; big toe to seatbelt
  • Keep going for as long as you can through the shrieks of laughter
  • Bonus points if you can capture the eye of the driver next to you whilst your face is smushed up against the window!

Verdict: We’re saving this one for our first standstill traffic jam!  

Tell us a Story…

  • Start with the youngest or the oldest in the car
  • They say “Once upon a time…” and introduce the characters in the story, ending halfway through a sentence
  • The next person finishes the sentence and starts the next. The following person adds their sentence to the story, etc, etc, round the car, until someone says: The End.
  • Record the story on your phone for road trip memories!

I couldn’t resist adding this travel game in as it's one of our family favourites. With a tiny tendency to silliness, plus our two young lads, the story always ends in a lot of toilet-based humour!

We thoroughly enjoyed these games for car journeys - they even kept our 3-year old toddler entertained in short bursts. For quieter periods, when you want a break are holding off on the tablets, I’d highly recommend an audiobook. Winnie the Pooh with Stephen Fry is a firm favourite in our household, and a friend swears by the podcast “Super Great Kids’ Stories”.

What car games do you play on long journeys? Please let me know in an email or on Instagram - we still have a lot of car travel to go!

Watch my conversation with George in full here on Instagram. Sharky & George are the party experts who find the fun in everything. They are a creative events company that specialise in immersive experiences for both kids and adults.

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